In the first few weeks of your program, you will be hit with a lot of information and may be thrown into teaching with minimal to no training. While this may seem like an overwhelming situation, it is important to make time to attend as many social events as possible.
You may ask yourself: Can I really find the time in all this chaos to socialize and have a good time?
I would say that even if you do not think you have the time, you should make it. I recommend attending social gatherings within your department or graduate student program at your university. This will help you network and form new relationships with individuals that may someday be on the leading edge of their fields. These new relationships may also benefit you by having a confidential group of colleagues/friends to chat and vent with outside of your department.
Throughout the year, avoid isolating yourself by attending the social events that come up. If your department or university do not have any social events, plan some! These events can be as simple as meeting up to eat lunch or as elaborate as a planning a movie or game night. Below you can find some events within my department that I have planned or attended.
I made an effort to attend department social events, such as happy hour and trivia to get to know the more senior graduate students within my department. These social events gave me a break from the information overload during the first weeks of lab and have continued to be a breather from grading, homework, and research since last year. We also have "Bad Geology" movie nights a couple times a semester and have had joint events with undergraduates for trivia, movies, and game nights in our conference/seminar room. Other ideas include going to check out a local brewery, cafe, park, trail, or even just meeting up to work out at the gym.
Any socializing can be as short or long and as frequent as you would like; however, I would reiterate that you should avoid isolation through socialization.
If you have other suggestions for social ideas, please comment below!
Joshua E. Kuether
Transitioning from laboratory nano-toxcitity to field geology: strange, normal, or spectacular?
Growing up the mental image I had of geology was old white people (mostly men) walking around, picking up, licking, and collecting rocks AND the people digging up bones in the desert. Even having grown up in Alaska, this was my perception and probably is still some people’s view of geology today. I wanted to work more with the environment, however, at the time I did not see the field of geology getting me where I wanted to go, therefore, I went into chemistry with the plan of pursuing a career in environmental chemistry.
I majored in chemistry at a small-private liberal arts university in Minnesota and did my undergraduate research in the field of nano-toxicology, focusing on mechanistic interactions (detailed under Research). I was sun-deprived three summers in a row to conduct my research, as many scientists do. My love of research solidified my desire to pursue a graduate degree, so I began looking at graduate programs. I looked into nanomaterial, soil science, and environmental chemistry programs but found nothing that sparked my intrigue. I had decided to take a year off to have more time to find a program that fit my interests until my undergraduate research advisor sent me a few forwarded emails about two sub-fields within geology, geochemistry and geobiology.
As I read about these fields, I realized that geology reached far beyond my initial conceptions. I applied and got accepted into my current program at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences. Since beginning my program, I have left the laboratory and conducted two field seasons in Yellowstone National Park. Each day in the field I learned from phenomenal scientists. Outside of the field, I continue to learn in the laboratory as I process samples and data and strive to delve deeper into my current project.
All in all, I would say that my transition into the sub-fields of geology has been a fulfilling experience, providing me with new opportunities to expand my knowledge and skill sets.
Joshua E. Kuether
As a first blog post, I have decided to put a link to a blog review I wrote on The Science Behind Pixar Exhibit that came through The Science Museum of Minnesota. Enjoy!